By Bettina Thiel – Woodbridge Town News Correspondent
They flick the rifle with the wrist, they fling it high into the air – same height, the whole group, timed; they catch it; and do it over again, countless times. That’s the Amity Color Guard, training for the upcoming competition season. Every Tuesday and Thursday they train at the Amity Middle School in Bethany, and Saturday mornings at the High School small gym. They use sabers, flags and rifles in a show of dexterity, precision and athleticism.
There is a junior varsity and the varsity squad, with students ranging in age from 12 to 18. With eight members, the junior varsity group is relatively small this year, and they are hoping to attract new members. “Any age and talent level is welcome,” said Lauren Hebert, the director. Orange students are invited to participate as well, provided they can get their parents to drive them to the Bethany Middle School for practice, or set up a car-pool. They also draw from the Woodbridge and Bethany elementary school color guards.
The Amity Color Guard has been in operation as a club for about eight years, carried in part by the enthusiasm of Daniel Staffieri, who volunteered his time as director for several years. It is now a part of the Amity program, with Hebert as the director and Brittney Gordon her assistant.
Even though they have a small budget for equipment and coaches, it takes parent involvement to get the program off the ground, and Hebert is grateful for the support she and her charges experience. The squad has no bus at their disposal and the kids need to be driven to practices. The real test kicks in once the competitions start, with events almost every Saturday afternoon from February to April. There are the parent “snack fairies,” drivers, those who help lug the equipment, the mats, the props.
Their reward is to experience colorful, uplifting shows, often to pumping music, reminiscent of a Disney show, all with a certain amount of tension, knowing that this is a competition. From the moment they are announced, the teams swoop into the gym, moving fast to set up the stage in a limited time.
The song Hebert chose for this year’s performance is “Over the Rainbow,” with the choreography moving from a cloudy day to sunshine, she said. The community is encouraged to attend shows and cheer on the Amity squad. The closest competition this year is at Jonathan Law High School in Milford, 20 Lansdale Avenue, on March 21, starting at 3 p.m. Tickets are $10, $7 for children under 10 and senior citizens. Other locations are Monroe, Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, Shelton, Norwalk and East Haven. A schedule of events is available on the Musical Arts Conference website at http://musicalartsconference.com/events.php.
JV members practice with flags for the winter guard
Brittney Gordon is the assistant director the Varsity Color Guard is warming up before practice